Kentucky basketball recruiting: Don’t be shocked if, despite denial, 5-star James Wiseman reclassifies
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Loyal reader Rocky ZZalboa asks an important basketball recruiting question: What [percentage] chance would you give to Wiseman reclassifying, giving us the needed big for next year?
He is asking about 6-foot-11 James Wiseman, arguably the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2019, who actually told SEC Country’s Joe Mussatto recently that moving up to the Class of 2018 is “not an option.”
So that’s the end of it, right? Well, maybe not. See, here is the thing — or rather here are the things:
- The big men in the Class of 2018 stink, and Kentucky wants a big man. Five-star center Moses Brown wants an offer and still doesn’t have one.
- The Wildcats are at the top of Wiseman’s list. All 11 picks in the 247Sports Crystal Ball are for UK and it would be a surprise to see him go elsewhere.
- He is absolutely good enough to do it. Wiseman played a high school game on ESPN2 recently and was being compared to Marvin Bagley III.
- Wiseman plays on Penny Hardaway’s high school team, Memphis East, but also his loaded Nike AAU team. They could win the EYBL championship — a.ka. Peach Jam — this summer. But if Wiseman announces he’s reclassifying before that event in July, he wouldn’t be eligible to play.
That last part is a biggie. Five-star prospect Jontay Porter was a 2018 recruit who everyone knew was going to reclassify to 2017 and play with his top-ranked brother, Michael, at Missouri this season. Jontay certainly knew it for months. But he waited until after Peach Jam (and even played coy while doing interviews at Peach Jam) to make it official.
I’m not saying that is definitely what Wiseman is doing here, or that he is definitely going to reclassify. He has said he will not. But I continue to hear rumblings that such a move is far from off the table. And as of this moment — two days after UK assistant Tony Barbee was courtside for Wiseman’s game at a holiday tournament in Florida — I’d still give it a 50 percent chance of happening.
Should that happen, Kentucky is going to be absolutely loaded in 2018-19. The Cats have already signed three top-35 guards in this class and could still land freak-show small forward Zion Williamson. And all signs point to a large group of former 5-star recruits returning for their sophomore and junior seasons at UK.
As I’ve written in this space before: Can you say super team?